§ Order for Second Reading road.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. W. K Forster.)
§ MR. E. EGERTON
said, he felt it to be his duty not to allow the present stage of the measure to pass without, in the interests of his constituents in Cheshire, calling attention to its provisions. The case of Cheshire was one of peculiar hardship, and it had suffered much from previous legislation on the subject of the cattle plague. The county contained 487 townships, 406 of which had been seriously affected by the disease. 35,000 head of cattle had been killed there before the passing of the Compensation Act in 1866, and he contended that, inasmuch as those cattle were slaughtered for the public advantage, it was not fair that the loss of them should fall upon that particular locality, but should be made chargeable to the country at large. He, under those circumstances, felt bound to tell the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Council frankly that, when the details of the Bill came on for consideration in Committee, a demand would be made by himself and those who took the same view of the question for the insertion of a clause making it obligatory on the country at large to pay the compensation for a loss which was incurred for the general good, instead of throwing it upon the locality itself. He would only add that upwards of 400 Petitions had been presented on the subject from different parts of Cheshire, and he trusted some means would be found of alleviating the grievance of which they so justly complained.
§ MR. J. B. SMITH
considered the Act of 1866 the most extraordinary Act that ever was perpetrated, and regretted that similar unjust principles had been embodied in the present Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Bright), when the Bill of 1866 was brought in, objected to the course then proposed as very unwise, because it was legislating for a panic, and "There was," he said, "hardly anything more absurd and pernicious than a panic." The House might form some idea of that panic when they were told that the Bill was passed in the course of four days, and that it laid down different principles with regard to compensation for cattle compulsorily slaughtered in England and Scotland. The principle for England was that no borough should be exempt from contributing to compensation unless it had a court of quarter sessions, while in Scotland all boroughs or towns were exempted from payment of compensation for cattle compulsorily slaughtered. About a fortnight after the passing of the English and Scotch Act, a Cattle Diseases Bill was brought in for Ireland which differed altogether from the former, and enacted that compensation for cattle compulsorily slaughtered should be levied on all the Poor Law Unions—this change was at once a recognition of the unjust principle of the previous English Bill. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey) in his speech in introducing the Cattle Diseases Bill for England, in 1866, said—The speech from the Throne deeply affects the interests of the people of this country, and when I speak of the interests of the people of this country I do not mean the interests of one class or another but the interests of the whole community.No doubt the right hon. Baronet intended to legislate in the spirit of this declaration, because the Bill he brought in made no distinction between England and Scotland, the boroughs in both countries being exempted from contributing to the compensation for any cattle compulsorily slaughtered except in their own boroughs; but, strange to say, in the legislative panic which then existed, a clause was smuggled in at the last moment without previous notice altering the definition of the term borough in England and confining its meaning to a town having a court of quarter session. The effect of this alteration was 436 to exempt places like Manchester, which had a court of quarter sessions, from the cattle rate, while all municipal boroughs were placed on the same footing as the agricultural districts, and were made to pay for the compulsory slaughter of cattle in the county to prevent the spread of the contagious disease to their cattle. The injustice of such a law will be seen from the fact that Salford, which had only five cows, had to pay £1,985 as its share of the county compensation, while Manchester, which had a court of quarter session, paid only £7 for the loss of a cow in that city; Preston, with two cows, paid to the county £1,195; Halifax, having no cattle, paid £876; and Oldham, with one cow, paid £1,227. The towns which had no cows should surely be excepted from rates for staying the spread of disease; for the inhabitants there suffered enough in the increased price paid for their meat, butter, and milk. But there was no injustice to equal that inflicted on Cheshire. The Bill enacted that, wherever the cattle plague broke out, the area for the payment of compensation for cattle compulsorily slaughtered should be the county. Now, Cheshire had suffered more than any other county. It lost 37,000 cattle before the Bill passed, and got no compensation for these, and then 35,000 cattle were compulsorily slaughtered—for whose benefit? For the benefit of those who had healthy cattle in other parts of the country, and who, in consequence of the disease being thus stopped, saved their cattle and were able to get a higher price for them. Yet those persons had never paid a farthing. This was what he complained of. The borough which he represented (Stock-port) had three cows, and would have to pay something like £30,000 as its share of the county rate. That was a case of the grossest injustice, not to be paralleled in any civilized country in the world. If such a case had occurred in Turkey, we should have said—"What can you expect in a country where life and property are at the disposal of a despot?" He complained that the unjust and objectionable portions of the existing law were embraced in the present Bill, and, while he consented to the second reading of the Bill, he claimed the right farther to discuss it and to propose such alterations as appeared to him to meet the justice of the case.
§ MR. CORRANCE
said, he did not intend to oppose the second reading of the Bill, but he was afraid that to the public at large it would not afford that amount of protection to which they considered themselves entitled. He used the words "public" designedly, because, after all, in the long run, it was the public, that is, the consumers, who paid for these calamities. He confessed that the Bill seemed to him to be intended to enable the Privy Council to do something that could be done without. After all, the Privy Council had never had the cattle plague while the cattle had had Privy Council enough. The Privy Council seemed to be passing this Bill on their own account, because they were afraid of something, and they certainly had reason to be afraid of pressure from certain places. The arguments and theories of hon. Gentlemen opposite went some way to justify the precaution of the Privy Council against themselves. Three of their theories were of an extraordinary character. First, there was the Providential theory of the right hon. Member for Newcastle, and then the cry of Protection; but he warned hon. Gentlemen opposite that if that cry was used in this loose way, at all times and places, in order to suit certain circumstances or cases, there was serious danger that a most important, most useful, and most elementary part of economical science might fall into disrepute, and it was matter for regret that Mr. Mill was no longer in the House to rebuke such a sentiment. The third theory was, that, with regard to the movement of cattle in the limits of this country, foreign and English stock should be placed upon the same footing. That meant that, because we were unfortunately obliged to put certain restrictions on foreign cattle—and he thought it a great misfortune—we should therefore put similar restrictions upon English cattle. In other words, having raised the price of meat by the restrictions which we were forced to place on foreign cattle, we were to raise the price much more by imposing restrictions on home produce. The right hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill (Mr. W. E. Forster) had detected all the fallacies involved in these theories, but it was significant that he should hear them uttered from the Benches behind him. One of the faults of the present Bill was 438 that it began ab initio. It did away with all the previous restrictions obtained through such long experience and pressure, although it re-enacted them afterwards, and the adoption of such a course was calculated to raise doubts in the minds of those with whom the present restrictions had obtained the force of prescriptive law. The moment those doubts were raised all the old agitation would begin again. One thing was certain, and that was that, as had been proved by the cases of France, of Belgium, of Holland, and of this country during the last two years, it was possible to keep out the plague; but that should be done, of course, with the least practicable amount of annoyance and inconvenience. He did not deny that such an object might be attained under the provisions of the Bill; but he thought they ought to obtain some better assurance than had yet been given that stringent measures for that purpose would, in ease of necessity, be adopted. He did not believe that any market authority would, under the present Bill, advance the necessary funds for the construction of a foreign cattle market; but that was only an argument against the Bill, and not against the market, and he asked whether the right hon. Gentleman could not propose some provision to supply this defect in the measure.
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
reminded the hon. Member that the House had to choose between the proposition to place the responsibility of preventing the cattle disease on the Privy Council, or a system of permanent restriction embodied in the Bill of the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu); and the Bill of the Government was, in his opinion, much to be preferred. The Government assumed the chronic state of the animals imported into this country to be one of health, while the noble Lord had assumed it to be one of disease. Under the present measure, the restrictions on importation would be reduced to a minimum, while precautions would be taken against the spread of the disease. Cattle slaughtered by the order of the inspector were slaughtered for the good of the public, because if the cattle plague spread the price of meat could not be kept down; therefore, the question connected with compensation for the slaughtered cattle deserved great consideration. In Cheshire, the cattle plague had been 439 most ruinous in its effects, and yet, after many men had been deprived of their fortunes by the disease, they were called on to pay compensation. He understood that a meeting had been held that afternoon in the Tea Room in reference to the establishment of metropolitan markets for foreign cattle, and he believed that the subject had been considered by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, and that he would be able to give an assurance that some satisfactory arrangement would be come to in reference to it. There was one part of the Bill in which he should move an Amendment—he meant the 61st clause relating to the transit of cattle by rail. Nobody who had not investigated the subject was aware of the dreadful torture inflicted upon these animals under the present system of conveying them from place to place. Very often the poor dumb creatures had to pass four, five, and even six days without even food or water, and their sufferings were very great. Apart from the cruelty of such a system, there could be no doubt the quality of the meat must be very much deteriorated. He should, therefore, in face of the railway interest, which was so strong in that House, be prepared to move words rendering it compulsory to find food and water for all animals being conveyed by railway beyond a certain distance or being detained on their journey beyond a certain length of time. In other respects he thought the principle of the Bill should not be interfered with.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, he was not one of those who had attended the Tea Room meeting referred to; but he was rather surprised to hear the remarks of the hon. Baronet on that subject, especially when it was known that the Scotch Members were in the habit, not only of meeting in the Tea Room, but deciding there exactly what they should do before they came into that House. [Sir ROBERT ANSTRUTHER: Not in the Tea Room.] Well, in some more convenient apartment. He (Colonel Barttelot) entirely denied that the Bill was in accordance with the opinions of the majority of the House. He gave the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council the fullest credit for introducing the measure under the impression that he was about to do justice to all parties; but if it were passed 440 in its present form, the greatest injustice would be done to a very large and influential class of persons. Representing a large agricultural constituency, he said what was wanted was this—they should have, not Protection, but prevention of disease, which would be as fair for the consumer as for the producer. He would now divide the Bill into three parts. The first portion of it, which consolidated all old Acts, was excessively good, and he had no objection to see it carried. The second related to the restrictions that were to be placed upon home cattle; and with respect to this he would only say that the farmers had no objection whatever to some restrictions being placed upon them, provided that they in their turn were protected from the importation of disease from foreign cattle. And with respect to the third point, the importation of foreign cattle, he wished, both in the interest of the producer and consumer, that they should be imported freely, but in order that that should take place there must be some proper place of import—there should be a foreign cattle market in London. With that they would be satisfied. Without it they could not prevent disease spreading all over the country. He was prepared to stand by these principles in Committee on the Bill.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, that the provisions of the Bill before the House had reference to two main points—the restriction upon the importation of cattle, and the compensation for compulsory slaughter. He had supposed from the opening remarks of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Corrance) that he complained of the restrictive clauses of the Bill being too stringent, but it afterwards appeared that he was desirous of greater restrictions. He (Mr. Rylands) agreed with the hon. Baronet the Member for Fife (Sir Robert Anstruther), that the amount of restrictions imposed should be the minimum which was consistent with the necessary amount of security. He considered that this was sufficiently met by the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster), and he should therefore give it his support. But his principal object in rising was to refer to the compensation clauses which pressed very unfairly upon the borough he represented. Warrington had had to pay a considerable sum as a rate-in-aid for Cheshire, whilst Wigan, 441 a town of the same size and similarly situated was exempt, simply because it had a separate court of quarter sessions, whilst Warrington had not. He urged upon the House the unfairness of the definition of a borough under the existing Act, and which was proposed to be continued in the present Bill. It was a most unusual, if not unprecedented interpretation of the word "borough," to exclude towns which had municipal corporations simply because they wore assessed to the county rate, and he pressed upon the right hon. Gentleman to restore the clause to the state in which it stood when the Bill of 1866 was first brought in. The hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Anstruther) had misunderstood his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith). His hon. Friend, complaining of the burden cast, upon Stock-port by the Cattle Plague Bate, had not argued that the compulsory slaughter of cattle was not for the public good, but he contended with much reason that it was a great hardship for Stockport to pay £30,000 for compensation, simply because it had not a separate court of quarter sessions. If cattle were to be slaughtered to stamp out the plague, it appeared to him that the compensation fund should be raised over a wide area. In the Bill of 1866, as originally prepared, there were clauses which provided for a cattle rate, which certainly would afford the fairest mode of raising the amount required for compensation. He (Mr. Rylands) gathered from the remarks of the hon. Member for North Cheshire (Mr. E. Egerton), that he was favourable to this course, and if the agricultural Members pressed it upon Government they would receive the support of many Members representing the boroughs. The other plan of raising a rate-in-aid was to extend it over the entire country. The burden of compensation in that case would be necessarily light, and it would be in every way a fairer course than to charge a heavy amount upon a limited area surrounding the infected locality. He disclaimed, on the part of Members representing boroughs, any hostility to the agricultural interests, and hoped that all parties would unite in supporting such moderate and reasonable proposals as would be for the advantage of all classes of the community. In conclusion the hon. Member again urged upon his 442 right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) to remove the injustice of the present compensation clauses of the Bill.
§ COLONEL BRISE
said, he had presented Petitions in favour of the Bill of the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu), signed by all classes and sections of politicians. In fact, he stood there with the echo of the Chambers of Agriculture still ringing in his ears, and he did not think that those bodies ought to be spoken disparagingly of in that House; for he thought if there were any bodies whose opinions upon these matters deserving of consideration they wore those of the character to which he had referred. The present Bill was an admirable one as regarded stopping the progress of disease; but he looked through it in vain for any preventive clauses. It would assist in the detection of diseases, but when it was too late. They were all interested in the supply of meat to the great body of the consumers, and it was, therefore, necessary that there should be no uncertainty in the great cattle markets of the country, and that there should not be this constantly recurring rise and fall in price. It was highly desirable that the great body of the working classes should have wholesome meat at as low a price as possible. Even the President of the Board of Trade—although he thought the country would not lie worth living in if the warehouses of traders were to be inspected to discover fraudulent adulterations—would admit that it was desirable that the working classes should have pure and wholesome meat. No doubt some of the largo towns had severely felt the restrictions that had been put on the foreign cattle trade during the last few years. It had been stated by the members of a deputation to the Vice President of the Council from Newcastle that the inhabitants had suffered from the high price of meat. He had, however, consulted the market reports of Newcastle of August and September last, which effectually contradicted the assertion that the market had suffered from the restrictions upon foreign cattle. He objected to this Bill, because, if it passed in its present shape, it would be far better that the Orders of the Privy Council should be issued as heretofore than to put the country to the expense and inconvenience which this measure would cause to the ratepayers in the for- 443 mation of committees and the appointment of clerks, veterinary inspectors, &c. He objected, in the next place, to this Bill on the ground of uncertainty. Nothing could be more injurious to the trade, and this was shown by the evidence of more than one witness before the Foreign Markets Committee. The strongest argument against a market such as was proposed was the loss of meat likely to be occasioned in hot or oppressive weather. But already that loss was severely felt. At Aldershot, to which the cattle were taken alive and slaughtered, Mr. Baker, a contractor, lost £150 in a single day, being unable to get rid of the meat in time. The dread of disease from foreign cattle was one great cause of the high price of meat, and prices would be even higher if it were not for the large supplies obtained from Ireland—nine-tenths of the supplies received by this country during the last two years having come from Ireland. What the agriculturists, therefore, wanted was a market for the slaughter and quarantine of foreign cattle—with that they would be satisfied, and with nothing less.
§ MR. DODSON
hoped the debate would not be much further protracted, believing, as one who represented a constituency interested in keeping the cattle plague out of the country, that the Bill ought to be passed through its present stage and amended in Committee. The Bill appeared to be carefully drawn, and to possess capabilities of being converted into a good and comprehensive measure. It was a Bill the intentions of which were excellent; but, unfortunately, they were intentions only, and there was no security for their being carried into effect, reminding one of a place popularly said to be paved with good intentions. The Bill had, he considered, good elements, and he believed it could be converted into a measure that would give satisfaction to all parties. The right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill (Mr. W. E. Forster) informed the House that the Corporation of London were prepared to provide a market for foreign animals, and had also given them to understand that the Privy Council were fully alive to the dangers of the re-introduction of the cattle plague, but, unfortunately, these things were left to depend on the zeal of a corporation and 444 the wisdom of a Privy Council. He wished to speak with all respect of both those public bodies; but, unfortunately, corporations were not always very zealous, and of Privy Councils the wisdom and energy were not always forthcoming at the right moment. He should like to see in the Bill clauses providing that the market should be provided by the Corporation with the least possible delay; that thereupon the cordon now drawn round the metropolis should be removed; and that under circumstances of danger reasonably apprehended the Privy Council should be bound to enforce its powers. The hon. Gentleman, in conclusion, suggested that Clause 58 should be extended so as to cover the case of stables infected with glanders, and that provisions should be introduced into the Bill enabling mar gistrates to punish masters, instead of servants, where the servant was sent out with an irregular license, or without any at all.
§ MR. PELL
said, it was too often forgotten that the restrictions complained of had been rendered necessary by the introduction of disease from abroad. Had disease not been so introduced those restrictions need never have existed. He thought it must be admitted that the regulations which applied to the London market were of a somewhat absurd character. It would not be for the benefit of the country that the healthy English cattle should be forced to go to the same market with the more than suspicious foreign cattle. The Cattle Plague Commissioners in their second Report stated that mere inspection was a very imperfect defence against disease, inasmuch as there were 5,000 or 10,000 cattle imported weekly, of which one-half at least were imported by the port of London. The only effectual precaution was to restrict the importation of foreign cattle to certain ports. There was ample business to render a water-side market successful, and the necessary buildings might be erected in a short period of time. The second part of the Bill, which had reference to home-bred cattle he entirely approved of, and he hoped that that part of the Bill would be carried out.
agreed that it was not desirable that any protracted discussion should take place on the present stage of the Bill, when no serious opposition was intended, and when the points 445 in dispute were such as could only be dealt with in Committee. He foresaw that there would be a very wide difference between the hon. Members who represented the rural districts and those who supported the interest of the towns. If he took the view of some hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the English beasts were healthy while the foreign beasts were affected largely by disease, he would be prepared to prohibit the importation of the latter altogether. He, however, did not hold that view, because he believed that, as a rule, the foreign beasts were as healthy as those of this country. As a representative of the consuming interest, he could not assent to the proposal of hon. Members opposite that the importation of foreign cattle should be conducted under circumstances which would be fatal to importation altogether. He believed that the existing restrictions upon the importation of foreign cattle were diminishing the amount of the food of the people. The price of beef in the North of England was raised at the present time as high as 10d. a pound in consequence of these restrictions. They ought not to apply one rule to foreign cattle and a different one to home cattle. He was perfectly willing that the Government should have power to temporarily prohibit the importation of foreign cattle from suspected places; but he strongly objected to any permanent restrictions upon the trade like those suggested by hon. Members opposite.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, that having already tried their strength with the Government upon this subject it was unadvisable to repeat the experiment upon this stage of the Bill, more especially as it had been decided that a deputation of persons of influence should wait upon the Prime Minister to ask him to give an impartial consideration to their views, and to endeavour, as far as possible, to meet them without infringing on the interests of others. The late Government were extremely anxious to relieve Cheshire from the hardship which had been inflicted on it by the loss of so large a number of cattle; but after repeated endeavours and careful considera-they had found it impossible to do so. The Bill under which compensation was given was the same as that which authorized the slaughter of cattle on the order of inspectors. Now, in Cheshire, as well as 446 in Aberdeenshire, a very large number of cattle were slaughtered by the voluntary action of the owners; not by the orders of any inspector with legal authority. Moreover, there were no documents in existence to show the circumstances under which those cattle were slaughtered, or their number, or their value in money. How, then, could the Government determine what compensation should be given? He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Privy Council to allow ten days or a fortnight to elapse between the second reading and the Committee on the Bill, in order that time might be afforded to the First Lord of the Treasury to consider the representations which gentlemen interested in this question intended to lay before him.
§ MR. CHADWICK
said, the Members for Cheshire wore determined to oppose the measure unless justice were done to those who voluntarily slaughtered their cattle as the best means of stamping out the plague. The legislation on the subject of the cattle plague had been hasty and crude, and it had inflicted hardship on Macclesfield and other towns in which there were no quarter sessions. He protested against the exemption of boroughs with quarter sessions from the cattle plague rate. The cattle voluntarily slaughtered must be paid for out of the national rates, and he claimed that the Irish Cattle Plague Act should be applied to Cheshire.
§ MR. J. HOWARD
said, the measure before the House was one of great importance, both with regard to the agricultural interest and the British public, and he desired therefore to consider the subject apart from the bias or prejudice of party spirit. Referring to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam), he reminded the House that the cattle of this country were liable to ravages by disease before the introduction of the rinderpest, and denied that the normal condition of the cattle of England and the Continent was the same. Until 1842 nothing was known in this country of pleuro-pneumonia. During the six years preceding 1861 we lost 65,000 head of cattle by that disease, and during the six years up to the period of the cattle plague we lost 960,000, or nearly 1,000,000 of cattle, by the same disease, whilst the whole of the imports during that period amounted to only 447 about half that number. An eminent veterinary professor had stated that in 1862 alone £2,000,000 worth of cattle was lost by pleuro-pneumonia. He mentioned this to show that the Government had acted wisely in the interest of the British farmer and the consumer in legislating for "stamping out" foreign as well as home disease. Our dependence for our meat supply on foreigners was very small compared with our own production. The cattle of the United Kingdom amounted to 10,000,000, of which, including calves, 2,500,000 were slaughtered annually, giving about 650,000 tons of meat. There were about 35,000,000 of sheep and lambs, of which one-half were slaughtered, giving 450,000 tons of meat. In 1865 the estimated weight of meat imported from the Continent was 55,000 tons, less than 5 per cent of the consumption. It was clear, therefore, that an immense proportion of our meat was of home breeding, and it behaved the Government, therefore, to guard our own flocks and. herds against disease by the introduction of foreign animals. Let this measure pass, and let there be separate water-side markets established, and the increase alone in the supply of home produced meat would soon more than double that of the whole supply sent us from abroad.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, in reply to the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdonshire (Lord Robert Montagu) that the Government had no intention of proceeding with the further consideration of the Bill at an earlier date than he had mentioned. Indeed, it would hardly be possible to bring it forward within a fortnight; but although there was a great dislike on both sides of the House to its being proceeded with in undue haste, an equally strong desire prevailed that there should be legislation on the subject during the present Session. Full time would, however, be given for its consideration by the country. The hon. Member for Suffolk (Mr. Corrance) seemed to have a false view of the intention of Government. He seemed to think that the Privy Council were anxious to obtain fresh powers, but this was by no means the case. Power had been actually forced upon the Privy Council during the last few years, as danger from diseases imported from abroad was more and more apprehended. The existing condition of affairs was not satisfac- 448 tory to either side of the House, nor to scarcely any interest in the country. On the one hand, complaints were made by borough Members that the present restrictions on importation interfered with trade, and raised to some extent the price of meat; while, on the other hand, there was a strong expression of opinion on the part of the agricultural interest that the cordon put round London in order to prevent the spread of disease was a very great interference with their trade, and, as they considered, an unjust restriction. It was also felt that it was desirable to consolidate the laws on the subject, and to extend the restrictions to other diseases. Consequently, the present Bill was brought forward. The Privy Council felt that it was necessary to take powers sufficiently great to cheek diseases, but no more. It was no doubt true, as his hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. J. Howard) had stated, that, taking the whole country, the foreign importations bore a very small proportion to the home production of cattle; but, still, the proportion of foreign cattle was very great in the London market. In reply to the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam), he might remark that unless the Government took the medium course of admitting cattle from certain countries on condition that they should be slaughtered at the port of debarkation, it would be necessary to prohibit the importation of a large number of cattle which might be advantageously brought into the country. He had carefully watched the debate, but had been unable to ascertain the precise difference between the views of the Government and those advocated by the representatives of the agricultural interests. He had failed to discover it was really thought that, instead of taking-power to compel cattle from certain countries to be slaughtered at the port of debarkation, the Government ought to draw a hard and fast line, and insist that all foreign cattle—from whatever country they might come—should be slaughtered on landing. Unless hon. Gentlemen took that line he did not see how they could decline the propositions of the Government. Would they exclude the Spanish, the Danish, or the French cattle? France never had the disease except amongst a few yaks and zebras in the Bois de Boulogne. France was a great agricultural country, and yet the 449 French Government did not exclude foreign cattle. On the contrary, France, relying on precautions, was a large importer of cattle, principally from those countries which we sought to exclude. Some hon. Gentlemen insisted on separate markets; but it was easier to insist on separate markets than to get them As regarded, however, the metropolis, the Corporation of London had under-taken to erect a market to meet the demands of the case, and he had no doubt that they would carry out their promise. The Government would be very glad to give full time for Amendments to be considered to the Bill, and proposed in Committee, but he did not believe, when it came to the point, that they would go much beyond what the Bill did. It was really an unpleasant thing, he might remark, for the Privy Council to have discretionary powers forced upon them. The responsibility was very heavy, and very little credit could be got, even if those powers were well used. What would happen if they tried to fence the power which was given to the Privy Council with conditions? Why, that the Government would get rid of the responsibility which would then fall on the House. He had heard one or two hon. Gentlemen ask, why should there be any uncertainty? The reason was because disease was uncertain and circumstances were fluctuating. The matter, therefore, came to this—Was the House, or was it not, to give any discretion? They could refuse to give discretion only by killing all the animals at the port of debarkation, for which public opinion was not ready, and by making separate markets, for which they had not funds. He would not detain the House any longer, but simply say that it was the desire of the Government that all these things should be debated in Committee, and that full time would be given for Amendments. As to compensation, the question divided itself into two parts, as regarded the past and the future. He wished it to be understood that hon. Members who assented to the second reading would not thereby be precluded from endeavouring to obtain what they might consider a better system of compensation for the past, as well as establishing sound principles for the future.
§ SIR GEORGE JENKINSON
said, that what he believed the agriculturist wanted was compulsory slaughter at the 450 ports of debarkation, and they did not believe that that would entail any possible loss to the consumer.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday 22nd April.